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Discussion-Based Assessments

Verbal conversations between students and teachers used to demonstrate mastery


Many schools have adopted an approach of offering alternate assessments in place of a traditional written exam. Alternate assessments offer students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery through a different medium, and they give teachers another window into students’ levels of understanding. Alternate assessments can also be used to check for academic integrity to ensure students are not simply submitting the same work and have truly mastered the content at hand.


One popular method is a discussion-based assessment, a verbal conversation between the student and teacher used to communicate their understanding of the content. These discussions can take place over the phone or via video calls. The student answers various questions about the material from the teacher and demonstrates their understanding by accurately explaining important concepts and using appropriate content-based vocabulary.

Schools such as ASU Prep Digital, VLACS, and Florida Virtual School incorporate these discussion-based assessments into their virtual courses regularly. These assessments are usually scheduled a few times per course, per semester, leading to many hours of insightful academic conversations between students and teachers.

Strategy Resources

VLACS Discussion-Based Assessment Rubric

VLACS created a rubric that explains the goals of discussion-based assessments along with details of... Learn More